THE TCM TiVO ALERT
July 15 – July 22
DAVID’S BEST BETS:
THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS (July 17, 4:30 am): A well-acted horror film from 1946 with the legendary Peter Lorre at his psychotic (and psychotronic) best. He's a musicologist who lives with a once-great pianist, who can no longer use the right side of his body after a stroke. His piano-playing days are over, and after a few scenes in the film, his breathing days are also over. Someone breaks into his mausoleum and cuts off his left hand. Lorre's interaction with the hand is brilliant and the special effects of the hand playing the piano and strangling Lorre are outstanding - even to this day. Great suspense and a fun horror film. It's also Lorre's last movie for Warner Brothers.
THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS (July 19, 4:40 am): Orson Welles' brilliant follow to Citizen Kane stars Joseph Cotten (one of film's greatest actors in only his second movie) as Eugene Morgan, a charming and successful automobile manufacturer in the early 1900s. Twenty years after he returns to town, Eugene falls in love with Isabel Amberson (played by Dolores Costello), a former flame who is widowed. But Isabel's son, George (played by Tim Holt), steeped in his family's tradition and name, interferes in the love affair between his mother and Eugene, who want to marry. The film is beautifully shot with incredible acting and a compelling storyline about those who go to ridiculous lengths to keep their pride at the expense of their own personal happiness and of their families. Welles lost control of the film's final cut and didn't approve of what was done to the film, even though he agreed it needed to be shortened.
ED’S BEST BETS:
NIGHT AND THE CITY (July 15, 8:30 am): A great noir directed by the great Jules Dassin and starring Richard Widmark as a low-life hustler trying to break into the “All-In” wrestling racket in the netherworld of London. Gene Tierney is memorable as Widmark’s tortured girlfriend. However, it’s Francis L. Sullivan and Googie Withers as oily nightclub owner Phil Nosseross and his equally shady wife, Helen, who steal the show. Look for the climatic wrestling match between Mike Mazurki and the legendary Stanislaus Zbyszko at the film’s climax. Not to be missed for anyone who loves noir with a little pro wrestling (the noir sport) thrown in.
CITIZEN KANE (July 19, 2:15 am): Disappointed that I recommended this? Seen it before? I truly hope so. Well, it’s always worth watching again (and again, for that matter). It’s been written about and praised into the ground, but still retains its magic. It’s the story of modern America through the eyes of a truly flawed man; a man responsible for shaping public opinion through his media empire who found everything but love. This is the feature film debut of such great actors as Agnes Moorehead, Everett Sloane, Ruth Warrick, and the renowned Joseph Cotton, as well as the starring and directing debut of Orson Welles. It was both an artistic triumph and a curse to Welles. If you haven’t seen it, now’s the time to check it out.
WE DISAGREE ON ... GUNGA DIN (July 16, 4:00 pm)
David: C. This is one of my father's favorite films. I have never understood the appeal of this attempt at being a screwball comedic action-adventure. It tries to be all of those and never clicks on any level. The film stars Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Victor McLaglen as British Army sergeants in India with Sam Jaffe as the title character, an Indian water boy. While Grant made great comedies, he also starred in some stinkers including Arsenic and Old Lace, and Bringing Up Baby. This film also falls far short of being funny and the fight scenes come across as somewhat ridiculous. It appears as though the film's plot (and there isn't much to it) is secondary to having Grant, Fairbanks and McLaglen mug for the camera trying to get by on their charisma more than anything else. In the end, it doesn't entertain me and fails to keep my interest.
Ed: A-. Who'd have ever thought that a movie about naked British imperialism would be so enjoyable? (Oh well, even Marx and Engels thought the English colonization of India was a good thing.) The picture revolves totally around the chemistry of its stars: Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and Victor McLaglen. And what chemistry! The trio completely pulls the audience in from the first reel and never lets up until the words “The End” emerge on the screen. Sam Jaffe plays against later type as the waterbearer who wants to be a soldier and Eduardo Ciannelli is wonderfully evil as the Thugee guru. Joan Fontaine is around to remind us that, despite their closeness, the boys are red-blooded. This is not so much of an adventure film as a nifty piece of pro-British propaganda preparing us for the inevitable War against the Japanese (represented as the Thugees). Is it any surprise that this movie was one of the most popular in the Pacific Theater during World War 2. And seen even years later today, it remains a testament to the incredible star power of Cary Grant, who could make filling prescriptions seem exciting.
For the complete list of films on the TCM TiVo Alert for the week of July 15-22, click here.